The sound of sadness


I was thirteen when I first heard the blues. It was in a rehearsal room – one autumn evening – and we ‘d just finished a run through of the play. I was getting my things together when another cast member started playing “ Basin Street Blues” on the old piano. I was hooked straight away – that slow, bitter-sweet tune coming out of the shadows went straight to my heart.

It stayed there over the years . I got to know them all – Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Muddy Waters – but two of them became my special heroes – John Lee Hooker and BB King. John Lee was very courtly, polite, controlled. He played a blues which was minimalist, oriental and intriguing.

BB, on the other hand, was expansive ( in every sense of the word). He came up the hard way, starting life as a farm hand and tractor driver, got his first guitar when he was 15 and learned to play by playing, and listening to his mentor Bukka White. He worked for local, then national radio, got a band together and played non-stop for the rest of his career. In one year he took only five days off.

His music is rich and smooth- think velvet smoking jacket, log fires, tumbler of whisky – and yet there’s a lot more to him than that. He’s got depth. Just look at tracks like “ The Thrill is Gone”, where he sounds like a soul in torment.

But one track stands above all the others – “ The Blues Come Over Me “ – it tells the whole story. Just look at the lyric :

“My baby gives me love
I just leave her crying”

He’s talking about an overwhelming sadness which comes unsought. There may be no reason for it – it just appears. He is inconsolable. We know this. We’ve been there.

“Some go to sleep and wake up
Tangled in the blues “

Isn’t that a brilliant choice of words ?

You get the blues and it’s as though a cloud is covering the sun, and while it’s there

“All the clocks say midnight
when the blues come over me.”

That’s what it feels like, and the only thing you can do is remember that it has happened before, that it will go away in time, like a cloud across the sun.

Don’t think that BB was a blues Mr Misery. He played some solid, upbeat rockers like “ Ridin‘ with the King “ and “ Hold On” He loved,eye popping waistcoats, and tuna sandwiches. He was fun.

But he was best at giving a sound to sadness, reminding us that every song, however sad,
comes to silence in the end.

Thanks BB.


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Show me the crumbs

I’m looking for some advice here. I want to turn a sort of hobby into something more serious. For too many years now, I’ve been playing around with voiceover.

I’ve got a decent USB microphone, a sound absorbent screen, a pop guard and a lot of enthusiasm. Voiceover gigs have kind of found me out. I’ve worked as a narrator for “Pseudopod” – the horror website for years; I have regular work recording the English side of English/ Spanish language courses as well as corporates and one or two ads. Jobs seem to appear every few months, including a recent lovely gig with “Cast of Wonders” the YA story site.

Now I would like to work more often. I decided this summer that I would join “” with a Premium Lite membership. It cost me $40 a month and I kept it for five months -$200.
I got tons of invitations to audition – some times five or six a day- lots of variety- and potential income ranging from $100 up to $2.5k. I sent in 753 demos, was favorited 10 times and liked 11. No work. Not a smidgeon.

Now I wouldn’t claim to be King of the Voice Artists, but I don’t think I’m that bad. I’m good enough for the crumbs which fall from the big boys’ table. And I’d be really happy with a crumb or two.So I decided to quit leaving a dormant profile behind me.

Where do I go from here ? Do I find another P2P site ? There’s something called Direct Voices which claims to give you the freedom to set your own rates…is that worth a try, I wonder.

Or do I set up on my own ? I can’t afford a massive outlay. I haven’t the skill to build a website, nor the money to pay someone to do it for me. Any outgoings would have to be pretty small.

My question is :

“ Where are the crumbs ?”

Any help or advice gratefully accepted.

The Queen


Of course I drink.
I couldn’t make it through the day without
a shot or two of schnapps or whisky sour
to keep me sane. The castle’s an asylum
for the upper classes. And who can tell
attendants from the criminally deranged ?

That’s why I sneak down here, back to my roots –
the bar I worked in when I was a kid.

Take the PM. I know he looks the part –
that silver hair, the patronising voice.
It’s just a front.
His brain is riddled like a mouldy cheese.
Tormented by his girl’s virginity
he eavesdrops on her every word,
salivating at each hint of sex.

I envy her soft skin, the swelling breasts,
but not her innocence. Virtue must be spent,
not hoarded, else it soon turns sour
and that leads on to madness.

No-one has the right to be so pure.

My son. The necessary heir. After the birth
his brutish father died. What choice had I
but wed his uncle ?
No child can rule a kingdom.

Get me another drink. Make it a double.

We never bonded.
I hated touching him.
His skin was always cold.

And now he’s grown
there’s even less between us.
He loiters with his college friends
in shadowed corridors,
blows me a kiss as I pass by.
I hear him sniggering behind his hand.

There is an emptiness behind his eyes
as though his life’s a constant agony.
I can relate to that.
Sometimes he frightens me.

One more for the road, then I’ll sneak back
to the asylum.
Drink up ! I swear
this stuff will be the death of me.